A continuous learner who is proud to change his value sets on the fly when a new idea proves its validity. Ideation person where ideas are generated at the speed of thought and meditation is used to curb them down. Connectedness is my drive for perfection where the relationships between multitude on effectors determines the steps I take today.

A continuous learner who is proud to change his value sets on the fly when a new idea proves its validity. Ideation person where ideas are generated at the speed of thought and meditation is used to curb them down. Connectedness is my drive for perfection where the relationships between multitude on effectors determines the steps I take today.

MOOC: Online Writing Course

I have just started another MOOC course on Coursera about writing. I was amazed to discover they have outlined 5 types of online offering. I am wondering why a writing course talk about online teaching? But I found its information worth capturing:

Type 1: Traditional Undergraduate Level Online Courses: have a great deal of instructor to student interaction,  follow the course content of the face-to-face counterpart, not self-paced, follow along with the entire class within a designated time period, do activities with other members of the class, also limited in size.

Type 2: Traditional Graduate Level Online Courses: the student is much more self-directed, not self-paced, but there is more interaction among the students with the instructor in a facilitation role.

Type 3: Mass Open Online Courses (MOOC): The interaction with the instructor is limited, the instructor mainly participates through designing the course and offering its content. The instructor will also participate in some of the discussion activities and is usually assisted by peer tutors or teaching assistants. Much of the course is conducted with technology providing the evaluation through machine graded tests and assignments as well as the use of peer graded work. These courses may or may not be self-paced based on the content and the design and usually have hundreds or thousands of students from all over the world.

Type 4: Hybrid (sometimes called Blended) Distance Education Courses: These courses usually occur in the traditional college setting and are partially online courses.

Type 5: Flipped Classes: take place in face-to-face classrooms in many colleges and universities. They implement online content and activities as a major component of the course delivery. Instructors determine what content for the course can best be done by students on their own (watching video lectures, read, do tutorials, etc.) and what parts of the course the students usually need help with (writing essays, solving problems, creating projects, etc.). Students complete the work on their own online before coming to class to work with the instructor on the components that are best done with instructor assistance.

Courses with Proctored Testing: Many fully online courses require the students to go to a specific place to do testing. Usually, the site for testing is the college campus or an alternative sited agreed to by the instructor and the individual student. (This class has no proctored testing.) Student integrity is very important in distance education programs because the college has to be sure that their courses meet requirements of governmental agencies.” 

(Ross, Barkley & Blake n.d.)

Although I like this classification and it makes sense, i still find their definition of the MOOC type to be wrong, or at least, incomplete.

Ross, L. & Barkley, T., Blake, T. (n.d.) : Crafting an Effective Writer: Tools of the Trade by Lorrie Ross, Lawrence (Larry) Barkley, Ted Blake. Coursera Course. Week 1. Retrieved from https://class.coursera.org/basicwriting-001/class/index

7 Principles for effective online teaching

I have been away for a while, ainy because I am busy with the impemmentation of knowledge worker technologies, and partially because I am bloggine on y personal blog. For now, I want to capture Chickering and Gamson (1987)  seven principles of effective pedagogical practices for online teaching before they get lost. They are written in 1987, but I find them still applicable today:

  1. Encourage contacts between students and faculty in and out of classes.
  2. Learning is enhanced when it is more like a team effort than a solo race.
  3. Active learning is encouraged in classes that use structured exercises, challenging discussions, team projects, and peer critiques.
  4. Students need appropriate and timely feedback on their performance to benefit from courses.
  5. Learning to use one’s time well is critical for students and professionals alike.
  6. Communicate higher expectations.
  7. Provide a diverse delivery system.

Wikipedia revisited

After almost one year of quitting wikipedia editing, I returned with two projects I had on mind: creating a portal for Canada and another one for Education. Not just create the portal but write relevant articles to enrich the Arabic version. I completed the Canada Portal which got the “excellent article” tag. To achieve this, I had to write more than 100 related article. The education portal is in the same route. The wealth of knowledge and insight I developed myself is massive.

In the process, as usual, I evolved. I learned to aim at creating neutral and unbiased avoiding being influenced by opinionated individuals. I became a neutral person in the world of opinionated and biased world. It is refreshing to stand to become a bystander in the middle of useless and wasted argumentative world.

PLE… or Personal Learning Environment

I was requested to ponder on my PLE… I have had a post earlier on the topic, although it was called PLN, back then (that is less than a year ago)…

PLE is the environment I use to convert information to knowledge… thus learn. I notice that my PLE has evolved tremendously, from being book based, to eBook based, to Google bases (i.e. random research) to more eCommunity based. When I reflect on how I evolved in the last 5 years, I am amazed. The evolution was smooth.

5 Years ago, I used to read a paper book everyday. I had a shelved room that kept my books. 4 Years ago, when I moved to a new house, I packed all my books tenderly in neat boxes so they should be shelved in a new book stacks in the new house. For the first time… I did not open my boxes. They are still stored in the Garage… I did not feel the need to have them… because I was able to get all of them from the Internet… I noticed I haven’s read a book for a long time… I mean a paper book… however, I read tonnes of articles, novels, researches off the Internet directly… Is it because my reading habit evolved or because my eye sight got worse (since you can increase the font on the screen?) God knows (I asked an optometrist and he did not give me a good answer!)

This assignment made me ponder more: when I am reading tonnes of information over the internet, what environment make me really learn, in a sense the activity that influences behavioral or paradigm change in me! It was an eye opener soul search… and here are the list of environments that really influence change in me:

(1) I have experienced the highest paradigm shifts when I interact in a virtual world with real people… SecondLife had the most impact. My learning through it was phenomenal. Learning about myself. It is still my favorite learning network.

(2) Virtual Games still impact me. Internet Spades still makes me discover weaknesses in thinking strategies. Epic Games forces me to discover new thinking realms in my brain.

(3) Wikipedia comes third. It had a massive impact on my value sets. It still does changes me constantly. It made me shift from “competitive” mindset to “collaborative”. Wikipedia plays two roles: it constantly challenges me to push my collaboration to the limit. At the same time, offers me wealth of information (not knowledge) that I find useful. For example, my recent involvement in the HealthSpeaks, made me appreciate collaboration for the sake of charity, while it offered me the chance to learn in depth about medical concepts that were alien to me.

The above 3 are true learning experiences. Still, there are few other Internet based PLE’s that I use to gain information or I can tap on when I am in trouble. It is a group of virtual individual who jump to my help when I scream… for example, FaceBook has been an excellent medium for my travel… better than TripAdvisor or Expedia. My Facebook friends offered me valuable advices that made my travels an enjoyable adventures. On the Education side, I rely heavily on POD, Educause, CIDER and CANITDIRS beside few other.

Recently, I started jotting my PLE’s on map mapping tools like Bubbl.us. Check out my latest PLE:


I just got involved in translating Wikipedia articles about the concept of “Noosphere”… I was fascinated to discover that there were people in the early 20th century were prophetically predicting  about the internet… Amazing.

Noospher, according to these prophets, is the 3rd cycle of the evolution of Earth. The first phase was the “Geosphere”, that is the creation of the physical earth. The second phase is the “biosphere” which is the phase were the physical earth evolved to create living forms. The next phase is the Noosphere when the living form evolves to the level of creating awareness. Awareness being the collective concept of knowledge and consciousness.

The first prophet of the concept was Vernadsky who in the 1920’s introduced this concept building on Darwin theory of the survival of the fittest.

The came De Chardin who elaborated the concept and tried to explain it theologically through his Omega Point theory. Obviously, his theory died when the church opposed it although he did his best to show that the Omega Point is the personification of Jesus.

Both ideas suggests that the next level of the evolution of Earth is to create a global awareness… which is the collectiveness and interrelationship of global knowledge!

Isn’t this what the Internet is all about? Interesting concept that requires further contemplation.

One step further: Type of Learning Activities

While driving today, I got some refinement to the idea I presented earlier. This came as a result of some discussion with Ann about her Program Concept restructure. My new idea relates to Blooms Taxonomy. Traditional learning program structure suggests that programs should have objectives. Courses should have a set of objectives that align with the program objectives. The course objectives should use the right frame: an action verb, a quantifiable criteria and an environmental condition. Google Bloom for more details.

My idea builds up on this concept and suggests assigning to each course objective an activity type that comes from one or more of these categorizes:

1. Behavior: is an activity that involves a behavior change based on the instructor’s value set. Examples: soldiers in an army, medical interns, religious followers, wiki users.
2. Experience: is an activity that enhances the knowledge and or skills of the person. Example: learning Math formulas, laws of physics, Social Studies facts, Wiki tools and rules.
3. Creation: is an activity that encourages a student to create their own knowledge. It is experiential activities that creates personal knowledge. Examples: (TBC)
4. Networking: is an activity that that encourages students to create preset knowledge based on group interaction. Examples: brainstorming.
5. Bohemic: is a free form networking activity that allows the group interaction to create new knowledge which does not conform to a predetermined structure.

These are progressive activities. Carrying any higher activity embeds activities from the lowers ones. For example, creation activity includes behavior and and Experience activities.

As you can tell, the terminology have evolved from the previous post. I assume it will continue to evolve as the idea matures.

The next 2 steps:
(1) Create a set of action verb that could be used for each category and a set of classroom and online activities that could be used with each type.
(2) Relate the action verb and sample activities to online courses.

Detect language » Arabic

Detect language » Arabic

Detect language » Arabic

Detect language » Arabic

Detect language » Arabic

New Idea: How to determine if a course is onlineable?

I was preparing for a workshop about online training. The audience were teachers who never created an online material. I was wondering how can I tell them that not all courses could be converted to online courses. Then, an epiphany came. It is simple and based on known theories. But its uses are limitless.

The idea is to classify every course objectives into one or more of the following:
1- Behavior: if the objective encourages behavioral change.
2- Information: if the objective focuses on acquiring information.
3- Constructive: if the objective entices the learner to create their own knowledge.
4- Networking: if the objective aims at building knowledge through communicating with others.
5- Rhizomatic: if the activity is …

oops… my son is calling be to drop him at work… I will continue later…

Los Angeles

I visited Los Angeles in December 2007. I loved it. I do not why it gave me energy. Maybe because it is a huge Lebanon. Maybe because its Ocean is blue and its sands is natural. Maybe the diversity of its people. I do not know. In Late Feb, we will be going there again. I hope I can discover why I love the place. I will tell you.

Wikipedia Reflections

I have decided to stop contributing to Wikipedia for a while to reflect on the experience. I have contributed to more than 700 articles (120 of them of my creation) through 4000 edit. When I started my vacation, I wanted to evaluate this experience. Here are my findings although I haven’t reached decisions about yet:

1- It kills time. Literally. Contributing to it makes time goes so quickly that you feel your life is passing by without noticing. I do not know if this is something good or bad.
2- Working with Wikipedia requires different type of mindset: unownership. You must contribute elegantly and professionally, however, you should not have a feeling that you own your work. You continuously defend the accuracy of your work. You do it, to ensure factual reality and not because it is your work. It is a new thinking that will require more understanding and research!
3- The Arab wikipedians are still in their infancy. They are not able to comprehend this new paradigm. Most articles contributed are useless. Still focuses on TV programs and football or nationalistic knowledge. While serious knowledge articles are ignored and many cases opposed. This is an interesting phenomena that is worth analyzing.
4- The Arab contributors to the Wikipedia feel proud by proofing others wrong. They just delete articles for the silliest reasons because they lack the maturity to investigate if there is validity and because, I believe, they feel proud with the number of cases they prove others are wrong! In my case, 20 articles were deleted and reinstated. THis shows that the decision of deleting them was wrong in the first place.
5- I have decided to limit my contribution to Wikipedia to 2-hours idle time (i.e. the collective minutes between actual work.) In addition, I want to make an effort to create a larger arab team to cotribute to the Arabic wikipedia.

more to come…

Vacation 2008 – Part 1

I have decided to take a VERY LONG vacation. 6 weeks. I haven’t had a chance to have a vacation in the last 4 years. At all. So, I wanted to have this long vacation to re-energize (I am writing this blog on the 4th week of the vacation, but for some reason, I am not energized. I don’t know why. Maybe it is age! Maybe it is lack of aligning my objectives with my dreams. maybe it is fate. I hope I will know one day!)

So, I decided to have a 7 day retreat in Hawaii in my dream setting (A bungalow in the middle of the forest with somesort of a bar where I can have a drink with an umbrella and a cherry). So, I booked for a stay in the Kahala resort and made tentive plans to rent an RV and cruise the west side of California.

But my wife had a sudden sickness due to doctor stupid decision. Nothing fatal, but forced her to stay in bed for… 6 weeks… the same duration as my vacation… fate is playing its games again… I spent the first 2 weeks of the vacation with my wife… although it drained my energy further, but it made me think more about life. I left her on her third week when she was energized and headed to Hawaii… we stayed on constant contact with the technology: MSN was on her face in the bed 24/7 and I was able to see, hear and feel everything, especially her snoring which I need to sleep.

Fate is still playing tricks… and I am still too umwise the learn a lesson… although I am trying to understand it.

Jobs… Fate and Condos!

This week, I got two jobs offers forr two position that came out of the blue… they contacted me and I did not apply!! First, I need to figure out how they hunted me while I am in the end of the world… second, why it came now… when I am really feeling low at my job and my status… synchronicity?? Fate ?? I hope I get the answers one day… but for now… I do not know why I am not enthusiastic about pursuing them seriously… Maybe I have reached a spiritual maturity that I really feel if I am destined to get any of them… it will happen even if I sit on my butt and do nothing… let’s see..

Both jobs will allow me to meet my dream: both will alloww me to live in a luxury condo in a sky scrapper… I want to do this, both will allow me to me alone… one of them will allow me to pursue my research dreams while the other will give me the freedom to let go and focus on the day…

I will see what God is hiding for me… and keep you informed…

Wikipedia… again

I am falling in love with Wikipedia… I am finding very fulffilling… I am averaging 5 articles per day between English, Arabic and French sites… it is great…

Besides its ease of use, the magnificent concept of just write anything, how other interact with my sites and how those little bots work to fix my errors and to populate my site with categories, language translations, correct common spelling and grammar mistakes are thrilling… I love it…

Why I am feeling this? This will be another blog… for now, I am enjoying my contribution to the knowledge of the world… and I am impressed with myself for I am able to take a neutral stand even in areas that I have strong opinion… magnificent


I have spent 3 hours writing an article about the genealogy of my family on Wikipedia… I was hoping that we can collaborate with relatives from all over the world to rediscover our roots…. in less than 10 minutes, my article was removed by TheEgyptian because family references are not permitted on Wikipedia… this made me furious at the beginning because it was a total waste of my time. But after drinking a cup of coffee, I was really impressed how fast the Wikipedians ensure that the content of their website is accurate.

Simply: Impressive.

Now, I am investing sometime installing TikiWiki on this site to permit our family members to create their own Wiki pages and enrich our family tree.

Professionalism and Logic

… just one example of the creeping evil of Professionalism, the control of aspects of society by cliques of insiders…
— Ted Nelson

I had a lengthy chat with a colleague who is facing major problems at work. He has all the logic on his side. He has the facts clearly defined and they truly support his point of view. However, he is fighting a losing battle because he is losing on the professional front. This made me think of few concepts: what the hell is fact, logic and professionalism? Are we taught the wrong concepts?

First some anecdotes came to my mind: We create “elegant” words to disguise vice and convert them to virtues. For example, “efficiency” is an elegant laziness. Politics is a disguise for deception. Diplomacy is elegance in lying! This made me think, is Professionalism an elegant disguise for unfairness?

I am just wondering!! I hope this concepts materializes into some meaningful formula.

Some famous quotes that addresses common sense which I will use in future blogs:

Professionalism has no place in art.
Jamie Zawinski

Logic is the art of going wrong with confidence
Joseph Wood Krutch

Logic: an instrument used for bolstering a prejudice
Elbert Hubbard

I see Professionalism as a spreading disease of the present-day world, a sort of poly-oligarchy by which various groups […] can bring things to a halt if their particular demands are not met…
Ted Nelson

Man has such a predilection for systems and abstract deductions that he is ready to distort the truth intentionally, he is ready to deny the evidence of his senses only to justify his logic
Fyodor Dostoyevsky

If the facts don’t fit the theory, change the facts.
Albert Einstein

Google Chrome

I installed Google chrome on my computer and found it useful. Its “chromless” concept which give a wide space for browsing is a nice twist on words and concept. Their instruction book is amazing. It sells many concepts at the same time… notice how they introduce all the members of the team that worked on the project. Having each tab the ability to work independently will improve the reliability of the web applications.

Still, it is not replacing my FireFox… the add-ins offered by FireFox are irreplaceable for me… so, I will wait until the Add-ons and extensions matures on the Chrome before I uninstall the Mozilla monster.